Review

Blow The House Down

by Robert Baer



Robert Baer has the credentials to write a first-rate intelligence
thriller. For 20 years he ran agents from the CIA's Directorate of
Operations and developed information on numerous terrorist
organizations. SEE NO EVIL is his memoir that inspired the George
Clooney movie, Syriana. BLOW THE HOUSE DOWN is a riveting
fictional version of 9/11 history in which he presents a plausible
alternate possibility behind the real events.


Max Waller is a middle-aged CIA agent who is obsessed with solving
the kidnapping and subsequent murder of his friend, Bill Buckley.
Waller possesses a photograph taken in the mid-'80s. Alongside
Osama Bin Laden are pictured three additional people: a young Arab,
another Arab holding an AK-47 and a fourth man whose head is cut
from the photo. Could this man be the elusive Shia Muslim terrorist
known as Murtaza Ali Mousavi? Waller is convinced that the identity
of this man, uncovered, will solve the riddle of Buckley's tragic
end. The guy holding the AK-47 turns out be a Hamas operative known
as Nabil Shahadah, architect of the first suicide bombings in
Israel.


Baer writes short, choppy chapters full of dialogue in the lingo
agents use between themselves. Terse comments between characters
identify their relationships, but at times leave the reader
struggling. Waller searches for the man in the photo and becomes
the object of an investigation himself. He's in constant
surveillance mode and takes drastic measures to elude individuals
tailing him for reasons he doesn't understand. In the process, he
calls on an old friend, Frank Beckman, who has become a millionaire
since leaving government service. He had been a consultant for
oil-rich moguls, settling into a wealthy lifestyle. Waller had
assumed the role of uncle to Beckman's daughter, India, now
grown.


India becomes a confidant as she inadvertently is drawn into Max's
puzzle. Like a pet dog, she travels about the Middle East with
little difficulty. Her knowledge of Beckman's business proves
valuable in connecting the dots in his map to discovery. Waller's
problems escalate when he runs out of former acquaintances to help
before he can clear his name from a frame-up. Lebanon, Iraq, Iran,
Syria, Pakistan and New York become staging areas for Baer's
novel.


The backstory from Waller's past life places him in situations now
relevant, and former case stories frame his reaction to events now
unfolding. Put through the paces of chase and hiding, he solves the
agonizing puzzle that ended in death and betrayal for others. A spy
story that gallops to a solution, BLOW THE HOUSE DOWN presents
interesting possibilities.


   










Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 22, 2010

Blow The House Down
by Robert Baer

  • Publication Date: January 2, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press
  • ISBN-10: 140009836X
  • ISBN-13: 9781400098361